Once upon a time, Roman Pontiffs and the Curia they assembled as hired help concerned themselves with the great issues and questions of the day. Minor issues were left to others to deal with.
These days, in the age of the feckless, a reversal of sorts can be noted.
Head over to Crisis for Fr. Rutler’s tour de force of apposite factoids and dates. You might make some popcorn. Here’s a taste…
These days seem to be a “perfect storm” of events which add up to a fourth crisis, and the faithful trust that “through toil and tribulation” the purging of corrupt elements will result in a stronger Catholic witness. Recently, Pope Francis told the press: “I will not say a word” about some of the most serious allegations of decadence in the Church, and he has long declined to respond to the dubia of some cardinals on the spiritual economy of marriage. Some have thought that such reticence is inconsistent with his dogmatic outspokenness on ambiguous matters such as climate change and capital punishment. On the most recent New Year’s Day, he said: “I would once again like to raise my voice” about immigration, and on Palm Sunday he told young people: “You have it in you to shout” even if “older people and leaders, very often corrupt, keep quiet.” That is why there was eagerness to hear him when in these most tumultuous months, on the fourth day of World Prayer for the Care of Creation, he finally spoke—but it turned out to be a warning about plastic debris in the world’s waters.
On September 1, the successor of Gregory I, who saw Latin civilization crumbling, and Leo IX, who grieved at the loss of Constantinople, and Pius V, who pitied souls lost in the heretical northern lands, implored and lamented: “We cannot allow our seas and oceans to be littered by endless fields of floating plastic. Here, too, our active commitment is needed to confront this emergency.” The struggle against plastic litter must be fought “as if everything depended on us.”
I almost spit my coffee on the keyboard when he reminded us of a 2007 of one of the minor dicasteries (which had to produce occasional documents to remind people – including Popes – of their existence to justify their budget):
The poignancy of such pastoral solicitude inevitably brings to mind the historic document of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in 2007 which was entitled: “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.” That was precisely the one thousandth anniversary of the no less important peace treaty with the Vikings signed by King Aethelred the Unready. The world will long remember that pontifical document’s opening line: “Moving from place to place, and transporting goods using different means, have characterized human behavior since the beginning of history.” The guidelines also pointed out (n. 21) that “A vehicle is a means of transport…” and observed (n. 23), “Sometimes the prohibitions imposed by road signs may be perceived as restrictions on freedom.”
In the Online Illustrated Dictionary of the Church, this piece might be linked under the voice: “sardonic”.